Text Ads Get the Most Looks

Here at the Nielsen/Norman Group’s Usability Week in San Francisco, Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice Coyne yesterday presented results from their first use of eyetracking to evaluate Web design.

Similar to the results in Poynter’s Eyetrack III study, their research on ads shows that people do not look at static ads with graphic treatment.

Users seem to “zone out” (with their peripheral vision) ads and other site elements that have clearly distinguishable ad features such as graphics and colors that make the ads look different from the rest of the site, or animated ads.

Nielsen/Norman’s study found that people spend, on average, less than one second viewing display/graphical treatment ads. Users did look at animated ads when they preceded content and were forced. However, in these cases the user had nothing else to view.

“Is this what you want to do to your users?” Coyne said.

When users DO look at ads with graphics, those ads usually have:

  • Heavy use of large, clear text
  • A color scheme that matches the site’s style
  • Attention-grabbing proprieties such as black text on a white background, words such as “free” and interactive (UI) elements.

(More coverage of this research)

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